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    Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States' foreign policy since the Cold War.The Republican president, who ran on a platform of 'America First,' will detail his plan Monday, one that if fully implemented could sharply alter the United States' relationships with the rest of the world. The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview Sunday, is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.Trump's doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that 'America First' does not mean 'America Alone,' the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.The last such strategy document, prepared by then-President Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an 'urgent and growing threat to our national security.' A senior official said the Trump plan removes that determination — following the administration's threat to pull out of the Paris climate accord — but will mention the importance of environmental stewardship.Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump's strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press last week reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two people familiar with it. The draft emphasizes that U.S. economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might. And they said it would stress the U.S. is interested only in relationships with other countries, including alliances like NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.Trump, according to the senior officials, is also expected to discuss threats he'll deem as 'rogue regimes,' like North Korea, and 'revisionist powers,' like Russia and China, who aim to change the status quo, such as Moscow and its actions with Ukraine and Georgia, and Beijing in the South China Sea. Trump is also planning to renew his call for the member states in the United Nations and NATO to spend more on defense, saying that the United States will insist on its alliances being fair and reciprocal.The senior officials said the document refers to China as a 'strategic competitor,' rather than the stronger accusation of 'economic aggression' previewed last week by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. 'Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,' it says. 'Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.'The strategy document asserts that 'for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region's problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.'The president is also set to make the case that U.S. economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might.The criticism of Russia will come as a break from recent warm words between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders have spoken twice in four days, with Trump calling Putin to thank him for kind words about the U.S. stock market and Putin reaching out to Trump to thank the CIA for help in stopping a terror plot in St. Petersburg.The strategy document will not make explicit reference to Russian attempts to meddle in the U.S. political system, but an official said it would highlight the importance of ensuring the resilience of U.S. democratic institutions.The early draft of the strategy reviewed by the AP lamented that America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multinational agreements, such as those aimed at combating climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them.The senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the president's remarks.___Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.___Follow Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Yen at http://twitter.com/@hopeyen1
  • Republican Sen. John McCain has returned to Arizona to celebrate Christmas with his family and will miss the vote on the GOP tax bill.The 81-year-old senator was admitted last week to Walter Reed Medical Center and treated for a viral infection. A doctor says he is also 'responding positively' to ongoing treatment for brain cancer.His daughter Meghan McCain tweeted Sunday: 'My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona.'The senator will undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in the state after spending several days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. In a brief statement, the office provided an assessment from Dr. Mark Gilbert, chief of neuro-oncology at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute.'Senator McCain has responded well to treatment he received at Walter Reed Medical Center for a viral infection and continues to improve,' Gilbert said. 'An evaluation of his underlying cancer shows he is responding positively to ongoing treatment.'McCain expressed appreciation for his care and the outpouring of support and, according to his office, 'looks forward to returning to Washington in January.'Now in his sixth Senate term, McCain underwent surgery in mid-July to remove a 2-inch (51-millimeter) blood clot in his brain after being diagnosed with glioblastoma.President Donald Trump told reporters Sunday he had spoken to McCain's wife, Cindy.'They've headed back, but I understand he'll come if we ever needed his vote, which hopefully we won't,' Trump said after returning to the White House from Camp David. 'But the word is that John will come back if we need his vote. And it's too bad. He's going through a very tough time, there's no question about it. But he will come back if we need his vote.'This week, the GOP will try to pass a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax package in the Senate with a razor-thin majority and all Democrats opposed to the legislation.Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate, and McCain and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., missed votes last week. The 80-year-old Cochran had a non-melanoma lesion removed from his nose earlier this week. He is expected to vote on the tax bill.Republicans secured the support of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker last Friday for the tax measure, and they are poised to pass the bill by a narrow margin in the face of unified Democratic opposition. As a backstop, Vice President Mike Pence would be available to break a tie.A vote is expected in the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Wednesday. If approved, the measure would head to Trump for his signature on what will be his first major legislative accomplishment since taking office 11 months ago.After his summer surgery, McCain rebounded quickly, returning to Washington and entering the Senate on July 25 to a standing ovation from his colleagues.In a dramatic turn, he cast a deciding vote against the Republican health care bill — a move that drew the wrath of Trump and conservatives. McCain's vote scuttled the seven-year effort by the GOP to dismantle much of President Barack Obama's health care law.But McCain's condition has appeared to worsen in recent weeks. He suffered a minor tear in his right Achilles tendon, forcing him to wear a walking brace. McCain eventually began using a wheelchair, with members of his staff pushing him where he needed to go.As a Navy pilot, McCain lived through a July 1967 fire that killed 134 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. The following October, his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi. He spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. McCain also has survived several bouts with melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer.___Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
  • Democratic Sen.-elect Doug Jones says he doesn't think President Donald Trump should resign over allegations of sexual misconduct, echoing the White House's position that voters have already spoken on the issue.'I don't think the president ought to resign at this point. We'll see how things go, but certainly those allegations are not new, and he was elected with those allegations at front center,' said Jones, whose upset win in last week's Alabama special election was due in large part to allegations that his Republican opponent, 70-year-old Roy Moore, had engaged in sexual misconduct with teenage girls as a deputy district attorney in his 30s.During the 2016 campaign, Trump himself faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment from women he branded as liars. In recent weeks, however, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has said the women deserve to be heard, and a group of Democratic senators including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have called on Trump to resign.But on Sunday, Jones noted that the accusations against Trump had surfaced before the 2016 presidential election.'I think we need to move on and not get distracted by those issues,' said Jones, a 63-year-old former prosecutor who became the first Democrat elected to represent Alabama in the Senate in a quarter-century. 'Let's get on with the real issues that are facing people of this country right now.'Making his first Sunday talk show appearances since his win, Jones said he looked forward to meeting with Trump. Jones said he believed his own mandate was to avoid rigid partisan positions in favor of compromise and 'getting things done,' even if it meant coming across as 'pure pie-in-the-sky' and sometimes disappointing some of his core constituents.He insisted that he'll leave 'all the options on the table' when it comes to his votes next year in a politically divided Washington on issues from immigration to infrastructure.'I'm going to consider anything,' said Jones, explaining that he doesn't plan on labeling himself a progressive or a conservative Democrat but rather as a 'Doug Jones Democrat.'Jones also made clear he's ready to move forward even though Moore has yet to concede the race.'Alabama has spoken,' Jones said. 'I will be ready to go regardless of whether he concedes or not.'Moore, who has denied the sexual misconduct allegations, has been discussing a possible recount even though he appears to have lost by 20,000 votes, or 1.5 percent. Trump, who supported Moore during the race, has also urged him to concede.Jones' election will cut the Republicans' Senate majority to 51-49, when he takes office in early January. He is filling the seat left vacant by Republican Jeff Sessions' nomination as U.S. attorney general.White House legislative director Marc Short said the administration was eager to see whether Jones will 'actually work to represent the people of Alabama' in a bipartisan way or side with liberal Democrats.'We hope that frankly Doug Jones will help us change the climate here in Washington,' Short said. During the campaign, Trump chastised Jones as a liberal who would be 'terrible' on crime and border security, and a 'puppet' for Senate congressional leaders.Jones said the president called to congratulate him after Tuesday's election. He described the call as 'very gracious.' On Sunday, Jones downplayed Trump's earlier criticism of him as statements made 'in the heat of a campaign.'Pledging to always consider both sides, Jones sided on Sunday with congressional Democrats in expressing a need for safeguards for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, but without funding for a border wall. The Obama administration program that provided those protections, the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, is set to expire in March.'I have said before that I opposed the building of a wall. I think that's an expense that the taxpayers just don't have to incur because I do think you can increase border security without having to go to the incredible expense of building that wall,' Jones said.But he also pointed to fixing roads and bridges, a priority of Trump's, as a bipartisan issue that could benefit Alabama.Jones appeared on 'Fox News Sunday' and CNN's 'State of the Union.' Short was on NBC's 'Meet the Press.'___Follow Hope Yen on Twitter at https://twitter.com/hopeyen1
  • Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson died in a hail of gunfire, hit as many as 18 times as he took cover in thick brush, fighting to the end after fleeing militants who had just killed three comrades in an October ambush in Niger, The Associated Press has learned.A military investigation has concluded that Johnson wasn't captured alive or killed at close range, dispelling a swirl of rumors about how he died.The report has determined that Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, was killed by enemy rifle and machine gun fire from members of an Islamic State offshoot, according to U.S. officials familiar with the findings. The Oct. 4 ambush took place about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Niamey, the African nation's capital. Johnson's body was recovered two days later.U.S. officials familiar with the findings spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to describe details of an investigation that has not been finalized or publicly released.A 12-member Army special forces unit was accompanying 30 Nigerien forces when they were attacked in a densely wooded area by as many as 50 militants traveling by vehicle and carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.Johnson was struck as many as 18 times from a distance by a volley of machine gun rounds, according to the U.S. officials, who said he was firing back as he and two Nigerien soldiers tried to escape.All told, four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops were killed in the ambush. Two U.S. and eight Nigerien troops were wounded.The bodies of three U.S. Green Berets were located on the day of the attack, but not Johnson's remains. The gap in time led to questions about whether Johnson was killed in the assault and not found, or if he was taken away by the enemy.According to the officials, a medical examination concluded that Johnson was hit by fire from M-4 rifles — probably stolen by the insurgents — and Soviet-made heavy machine guns. It is believed he died in the attack.The officials said Johnson was found under thick scrub brush where he tried to take cover. There were no indications he was shot at close range, or had been bound or taken prisoner, as several media reports have suggested.The U.S. Africa Command began its investigation with a team headed by Army Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, the command's chief of staff. The team visited locations in Niger to collect evidence and information about the attack, and will soon submit a draft of Cloutier's report to Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of Africa Command. Waldhauser could ask for additional information. The final report is expected to be released next month.The officials familiar with the report's conclusions said that during the attack, Johnson and two Nigerien soldiers tried to get to a vehicle to escape, but were unable to do so, became separated from the others and were shot as they were running for safety.The report concluded that Johnson, who was athletic and a runner, was in the lead and got the farthest away, seeking cover in the brush. Officials said there were a number of enemy shells around Johnson, and evidence that he appeared to fight to the end. His boots and other equipment were later stolen, but he was still wearing his uniform.As news of the ambush came out, the U.S. military sent in rescue teams to search for Johnson, not making his status public in the hope he might have gotten away and was still alive and hiding. The Pentagon only acknowledged that he was missing after his body was located two days later by local forces.The Pentagon has declined to release details about the exact mission of the commando team. U.S. officials have previously said that the joint U.S.-Niger patrol had been asked to assist a second American commando team hunting for a senior Islamic State member, who also had former ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The team had been asked to go to a location where the insurgent had last been seen, and collect intelligence.After completing that mission, the troops stopped in a village for a short time to get food and water, then left. The U.S. military believes someone in the village may have tipped off attackers to the presence of U.S. commandoes and Nigerien forces in the area, setting in motion the ambush.U.S. special operations forces have been routinely working with Niger's forces, helping them to improve their abilities to fight extremists in the region. That effort has increased in recent years, the Pentagon said.The three other Americans killed were Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia. Black and Wright were Army Special Forces. Johnson and Johnson were not commandos.Johnson's combat death led to a political squabble between President Donald Trump and a Democratic congresswoman from Florida after Trump told Johnson's pregnant widow in a phone call that her husband 'knew what he signed up for.' Rep. Frederica Wilson was riding with Johnson's family to meet the body and heard the call on speakerphone. The spat grew to include Trump's chief of staff, who called Wilson an 'empty barrel' making noise.___Online:Africa Command: http://www.africom.mil/
  • President Donald Trump says he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, but that didn't stop him from adding to the growing conservative criticism of Mueller's acquisition of thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials before the start of his administration.The disclosure came in a letter sent to two congressional committees by Kory Langhofer, general counsel of Trump's still-existing transition group, Trump for America.In the letter to the Republican heads of the House Oversight and Senate Homeland Security panels, Langhofer said Mueller's investigators obtained the emails from the General Services Administration, a federal agency that stored the material, rather than requesting them from the transition organization.Langhofer asserted the GSA improperly provided the transition records to Mueller's team, which he said has been 'actively using' the emails. In the letter, Lanhofer also contends that the disclosure by GSA was 'unauthorized,' and said the transition organization considers the documents private and privileged — and not government property.While conservatives have been critical of Mueller's probe of Russian activities during the 2016 campaign, Trump said Sunday afternoon that he has no plans to fire Mueller.The president did criticize the fact that Mueller had gained access the emails, however. Trump said it was 'not looking good' and again stressed that there was 'no collusion' with Russia — an important question the probe is examining.The documents were provided to Mueller's team by the GSA in September in response to requests from the FBI, but the transition team didn't learn about it until last week, Langhofer said.The tens of thousands of emails in question pertain to 13 senior Trump transition officials. Many of the emails that Mueller's investigators have now include national security discussions about possible Trump international aims as well as candid assessments of candidates for top government posts, said those familiar with the transition. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the records' sensitivity.Langhofer also said that a GSA official appointed by Trump in May had assured the transition in June that any request for records from Mueller's office would be referred to the transition's attorneys. According to Langhofer, the assurance was made by then-GSA General Counsel Richard Beckler, who was hospitalized in August and has since died. A copy of the letter was obtained by the AP.But late Saturday, another GSA official present for the conversation told Buzzfeed News that there was nothing improper about the disclosure of the emails to Mueller's team. The GSA has provided office space and other aid to presidential transitions in recent years and typically houses electronic transition records in its computer system.GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt, whom Langhofer blames along with other GSA career staff for providing the transition documents to the FBI, told Buzzfeed that Beckler didn't make a commitment to the transition team that requests from law enforcement for materials would be routed through transition lawyers.Transition officials signed agreements that warn them that materials kept on the government servers are subject to monitoring and auditing, Loewentritt told Buzzfeed, and there's no expectation of privacy.Late Saturday, Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr, said the special counsel's office has followed the law when it has obtained documents during its investigation.'When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process,' Carr said.In a statement, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, dismissed the transition's arguments that GSA shouldn't have turned over the records to Mueller.Among the officials who used transition email accounts was former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to a count of making false statements to FBI agents in January and is cooperating with Mueller's investigation. Trump fired Flynn in February for misleading senior administration officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.Flynn attorney Robert Kelner declined to comment. Jay Sekulow, an attorney on Trump's personal legal team, referred questions to the transition group. Spokespeople for GSA didn't respond to AP's emailed requests for comment.It's unclear how revelatory the email accounts maintained by the GSA will be for Mueller. Several high-level Trump advisers sometimes used other email accounts, including their campaign accounts, to communicate about transition issues between Election Day and the inauguration.The special counsel's office also obtained at least one iPad as well as laptops and cellphones that were used by the transition, but prosecutors have assured the transition that investigators have not pulled emails and other data from those devices, Langhofer said. He did not name the transition officials who used the devices.The media site Axios first reported on the transfer of the emails to Mueller's team.__Read the letter: http://apne.ws/SKWSKsk
  • Sen. John McCain will not be in Washington when Congress votes on the Republican tax bill this week, CNN reported Sunday. >> Read more trending news The Arizona Republican returned to his home state Sunday to continue recovering from the side effects of chemotherapy for a brain tumor, two sources confirmed to CNN. The senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain, confirmed in a tweet that her father would be in Arizona for Christmas. “Thank you to everyone for their kind words. My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona,” she tweeted Sunday afternoon. McCain, 81, is unlikely to return to Washington this year, one of the sources told CNN. The senator left Walter Reed Medical Center “exhausted, but OK,” a Republican close to him said. Dr. Mark Gilbert, chief of neuro-oncology at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute, released a statement Sunday saying McCain “continues to improve” after being treated for a viral infection. He added the senator is also responding positively to his ongoing cancer treatment. McCain's office released a statement Sunday night: 'Senator McCain has returned to Arizona and will undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic. He is grateful for the excellent care he continues to receive, and appreciates the outpouring of support from people all over the country. He looks forward to returning to Washington in January.' McCain was admitted into the hospital on Wednesday after missing a third straight day of votes in the Senate.  The final vote on the Republican tax bill is expected to take place early this week. The passage of the tax bill, however, does not hinge on McCain's support because the GOP has a 52-48 vote advantage in the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence can also cast a tie-breaking vote, should it be needed.
  • The Latest on Sen. John McCain (all times local):8:35 p.m.Republican Sen. John McCain has been treated at a military hospital for a viral infection and is 'responding positively' to ongoing treatment for brain cancer.That's the word Sunday from Dr. Mark Gilbert, chief of Neuro-Oncology at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute. The senator's office released a statement with the doctor's assessment.His office says McCain has returned to Arizona and will undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in the state. The statement says the senator appreciates the outpouring of support from people around the country. His office says the 81-year-old senator 'looks forward to returning to Washington in January.'McCain will miss the vote this week on the tax bill. The GOP is likely to have enough Republicans to pass the measure.___5:15 p.m.President Donald Trump says Republican Sen. John McCain is returning home to Arizona after being hospitalized over the side effects from his brain cancer treatment.Trump told reporters on Sunday that he spoke to McCain's wife, Cindy, and wished the couple well.The president says: 'They've headed back, but I understand he'll come if we ever needed his help, which hopefully we won't.'The House and Senate are scheduled to vote this week on Trump's top legislative accomplishment, a sweeping tax package. Republicans secured the support of Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Corker of Tennessee last week and should have enough votes for the GOP measure.The 81-year-old McCain has been hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland.Trump says: 'He's going through a very tough time, there's no question about it.
  • Republican Sen. John McCain has returned home to Arizona after being hospitalized for a viral infection while battling brain cancer and will miss a crucial Senate vote on the GOP tax package, his office said Sunday.The 81-year-old senator will undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in the state after spending several days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. In a brief statement, the office provided an assessment from Dr. Mark Gilbert, chief of neuro-oncology at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute.'Senator McCain has responded well to treatment he received at Walter Reed Medical Center for a viral infection and continues to improve,' Gilbert said. 'An evaluation of his underlying cancer shows he is responding positively to ongoing treatment.'McCain expressed appreciation for his care and the outpouring of support and, according to his office, 'looks forward to returning to Washington in January.'Now in his sixth Senate term, McCain underwent surgery in mid-July to remove a 2-inch (51-millimeter) blood clot in his brain after being diagnosed with glioblastoma.His daughter Meghan McCain tweeted Sunday: 'My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona.'Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump told reporters he had spoken to McCain's wife, Cindy.'They've headed back, but I understand he'll come if we ever needed his vote, which hopefully we won't,' Trump said after returning to the White House from Camp David. 'But the word is that John will come back if we need his vote. And it's too bad. He's going through a very tough time, there's no question about it. But he will come back if we need his vote.'Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate, and McCain and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., missed votes last week. The 80-year-old Cochran had a non-melanoma lesion removed from his nose earlier this week. He is expected to vote on the tax bill.Republicans secured the support of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker last Friday for the tax measure, and they are poised to pass the bill by a narrow margin in the face of unified Democratic opposition. As a backstop, Vice President Mike Pence would be available to break a tie.A vote is expected in the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Wednesday. If approved, the measure would head to Trump for his signature on what will be his first major legislative accomplishment since taking office 11 months ago.After his summer surgery, McCain rebounded quickly, returning to Washington and entering the Senate on July 25 to a standing ovation from his colleagues.In a dramatic turn, he cast a deciding vote against the Republican health care bill — a move that drew the wrath of Trump and conservatives. McCain's vote scuttled the seven-year effort by the GOP to dismantle much of President Barack Obama's health care law.But McCain's condition has appeared to worsen in recent weeks. He suffered a minor tear in his right Achilles tendon, forcing him to wear a walking brace. McCain eventually began using a wheelchair, with members of his staff pushing him where he needed to go.As a Navy pilot, McCain lived through a July 1967 fire that killed 134 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War. The following October, his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi. He spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. McCain also has survived several bouts with melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer.___Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
  • Democrat Doug Jones, who won election to the Senate from staunchly Republican Alabama, insisted to both parties in politically divided Washington Sunday that he'll leave 'all the options on the table' when it comes to his votes next year on issues from immigration to infrastructure.'I'm going to consider anything,' said Jones, explaining that he doesn't plan on labeling himself a progressive or a conservative Democrat but a 'Doug Jones Democrat.'In an early sign, Jones reiterated that he would oppose spending money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, as President Donald Trump insists upon, and expressed concern that a sweeping GOP tax cut proposal that was on track for approval this week was being 'plopped into a vote too quickly.' At the same time, Jones said people should not 'expect me to vote solidly for Republicans or Democrats.'The 63-year-old former U.S. attorney made clear he's ready to move forward even though his Republican opponent in last Tuesday's special election, Roy Moore, has yet to concede the race. 'Alabama has spoken,' Jones said. 'I will be ready to go regardless of whether he concedes or not.'Jones' election will cut the Republicans' Senate majority to 51-49, when he takes office in early January.White House legislative director Marc Short said the administration was eager to see whether Jones will 'actually work to represent the people of Alabama' in a bipartisan way or side with liberal Democrats. Trump has also urged Moore to concede the race.'We hope that frankly Doug Jones will help us change the climate here in Washington,' Short said. During the campaign, Trump chastised Jones as a liberal who would be 'terrible' on crime and border security, and a 'puppet' for Senate congressional leaders.But on Sunday, Jones downplayed Trump's earlier criticism as statements made 'in the heat of a campaign,' and described the president's congratulatory call after the election as 'very gracious.'I'm going to be looking at issues on both sides,' he said.Jones defeated Moore, by 20,000 votes, or 1.5 percent, to become the first Democrat elected to represent Alabama in the Senate in a quarter-century. He was lifted by African-American voters, independents and moderate Republicans who turned out to reject Moore, who faced newly raised allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls decades ago.Making his first Sunday talk show appearances since his win, Jones said he looked forward to meeting with Trump and believed his own mandate was to avoid rigid partisan positions in favor of compromise and 'getting things done,' even if meant coming across as 'pure pie-in-the-sky' and sometimes disappointing some of his core constituents.On the one hand, Jones said that he doesn't think Trump should resign over sexual misconduct claims, as some Democrats are calling for.But siding with congressional Democrats, Jones made clear he wants to help devise safeguards for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, but without funding for a border wall. The Obama administration program which provided those protections, the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program is set to expire in March.'I have said before that I opposed the building of a wall. I think that's an expense that the taxpayers just don't have to incur because I do think you can increase border security without having to go to the incredible expense of building that wall,' Jones said. Referring to a broader immigration overhaul that would likely involve questions of a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living here illegally, he said: 'I think it's going to be very complicated. ...I'm not as sure it's as important as health care and some other things right now.'He pointed to fixing roads and bridges, a priority of Trump's, as a bipartisan issue that could benefit Alabama. 'Let's get on with the real issues that are facing people of this country right now,' Jones said.Jones appeared on 'Fox News Sunday' and CNN's 'State of the Union.' Short was on NBC's 'Meet the Press.
  • Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson died in a hail of gunfire, hit as many as 18 times as he took cover in thick brush, fighting to the end after fleeing militants who had just killed three comrades in an October ambush in Niger, The Associated Press has learned.A military investigation has concluded that Johnson wasn't captured alive or killed at close range, dispelling a swirl of rumors about how he died.The report has determined that Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, was killed by enemy rifle and machine gun fire from members of an Islamic State offshoot, according to U.S. officials familiar with the findings. The Oct. 4 ambush took place about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Niamey, the African nation's capital. Johnson's body was recovered two days later.U.S. officials familiar with the findings spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to describe details of an investigation that has not been finalized or publicly released.A 12-member Army special forces unit was accompanying 30 Nigerien forces when they were attacked in a densely wooded area by as many as 50 militants traveling by vehicle and carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.Johnson was struck as many as 18 times from a distance by a volley of machine gun rounds, according to the U.S. officials, who said he was firing back as he and two Nigerien soldiers tried to escape.All told, four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops were killed in the ambush. Two U.S. and eight Nigerien troops were wounded.The bodies of three U.S. Green Berets were located on the day of the attack, but not Johnson's remains. The gap in time led to questions about whether Johnson was killed in the assault and not found, or if he was taken away by the enemy.According to the officials, a medical examination concluded that Johnson was hit by fire from M-4 rifles — probably stolen by the insurgents — and Soviet-made heavy machine guns. It is believed he died in the attack.The officials said Johnson was found under thick scrub brush where he tried to take cover. There were no indications he was shot at close range, or had been bound or taken prisoner, as several media reports have suggested.A U.S. Africa Command began its investigation with a team headed by Army Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, the command's chief of staff. The team visited locations in Niger to collect evidence and information about the attack, and will soon submit a draft of Cloutier's report to Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of Africa Command. Waldhauser could ask for additional information. The final report is expected to be released next month.The officials familiar with the report's conclusions said that during the attack, Johnson and two Nigerien soldiers tried to get to a vehicle to escape, but were unable to do so, became separated from the others and were shot as they were running for safety.The report concluded that Johnson, who was athletic and a runner, was in the lead and got the farthest away, seeking cover in the brush. Officials said there were a number of enemy shells around Johnson, and evidence that he appeared to fight to the end. His boots and other equipment were later stolen, but he was still wearing his uniform.As news of the ambush came out, the U.S. military sent in rescue teams to search for Johnson, not making his status public in the hope he might have gotten away and was still alive and hiding. The Pentagon only acknowledged that he was missing after his body was located two days later by local forces.The Pentagon has declined to release details about the exact mission of the commando team. U.S. officials have previously said that the joint U.S.-Niger patrol had been asked to assist a second American commando team hunting for a senior Islamic State member, who also had former ties to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. The team had been asked to go to a location where the insurgent had last been seen, and collect intelligence.After completing that mission, the troops stopped in a village for a short time to get food and water, then left. The U.S. military believes someone in the village may have tipped off attackers to the presence of U.S. commandoes and Nigerien forces in the area, setting in motion the ambush.U.S. special operations forces have been routinely working with Niger's forces, helping them to improve their abilities to fight extremists in the region. That effort has increased in recent years, the Pentagon said.The three other Americans killed were Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia. Black and Wright were Army Special Forces. Johnson and Johnson were not commandos.Johnson's combat death led to a political squabble between President Donald Trump and a Democratic congresswoman from Florida after Trump told Johnson's pregnant widow in a phone call that her husband 'knew what he signed up for.' Rep. Frederica Wilson was riding with Johnson's family to meet the body and heard the call on speakerphone. The spat grew to include Trump's chief of staff, who called Wilson an 'empty barrel' making noise.___Online:Africa Command: http://www.africom.mil/

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • If Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios is anything like its film counterpart, The Last Jedi, Disney is about to make a whole lot of money. The theme park unveiled new concept art that shows off what the Millenium Falcon will look like when it flies into Hollywood Studios in 2019.  (Photo) Over the weekend, Park Imagineer Scott Trowbridge and his team also offered a sneak peak at the planet of Batuu during the Star Wars: Galactic Nights event.  (Photo) Die hard Star Wars fans can also look forward to finally tasting the series' infamous blue milk. The strange beverage has made an appearance as an easter egg in most of the Star Wars movies and will be available to purchase at the shops on planet Batuu.
  • Even with tempers flaring during the massive Atlanta airport blackout, there was still a way to find humor in the madness. Take this airport employee for example. Instagram user @sarahmanleyy posted video of a Hartsfield-Jackson airport worker making the best of a crowded escalator by  sliding down the middle of it like a boss to go and help passengers.  “Dealing with the power outage at the Atlanta airport was actually insane and I'll post other scary videos later. But the staff was having to slide down the escalators to help people and it was amusing,” @sarahmanleyy writes. (Instagram) The worker got a high-five and some cheers at the bottom of the escalator. 
  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies are responding to reports of multiple fights at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center.   The reports came in about 4:30 a.m. Monday at the center on Bumby Avenue.    Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the incident.    No other details were released. (tweet)
  • Former Ballon d'Or winner Kaka says he is retiring from soccer at age 35.   Kaka, who played for Brazil, AC Milan and Real Madrid, told Brazil's Globo TV on Sunday that 'my last word is that the cycle of my career as a player ends here.'    'I needed time to think and take a decision calmly,' Kaka said. 'I have arrived to the conclusion that now is the moment to finish my career as a professional player.'    A graceful midfielder, Kaka won 92 caps for Brazil, scoring 29 goals and featuring at three World Cups. He was part of the Brazil squad that lifted the trophy in 2002.    Kaka said that he would like to remain linked professionally to soccer, perhaps as a manager or sports director of a team.    The dangerous playmaker won the Ballon d'Or and FIFA's World Player award in 2007 while playing for Milan. Kaka was part of the Milan team that won the 2007 Champions League final against Liverpool.    Kaka joined Real Madrid in 2009 for 67 million euros ($78.7 million) but had an up-and-down stint due to injuries.    Kaka was a free agent after leaving MLS team Orlando City in October.
  • While power has been restored to the world's busiest airport, the travel woes will linger for days.Thousands of people were stranded Monday morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where more than 1,000 flights were grounded just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush.A sudden power outage that Georgia Power said was caused by a fire in an underground electrical facility brought the airport to a standstill Sunday about 1 p.m.All outgoing flights were halted, and arriving planes were held on the ground at their point of departure. International flights were being diverted, officials said.Delta Air Lines, with its biggest hub in Atlanta, will be hardest hit. By Sunday evening, Delta had already canceled nearly 900 flights and another 300 Monday, nearly all of them in Atlanta, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.Robert Mann, an aviation consultant and former American Airlines executive, said it likely will be Tuesday before Delta's operations in Atlanta return to normal, and for passengers 'it could be most of the week' because there aren't many open seats on other flights in the last week before Christmas.One bit of good news, according to Mann: Delta has more spare planes and available crews in Atlanta than anywhere else, which should help it to recover.Delta customers flying to or from Atlanta can make a one-time change to travel plans without incurring a $200 change fee. The airline also encouraged travelers not to pick up their bags Monday because of anticipated congestion at the airport.Still, when flights at Atlanta were grounded for most of one day last spring, it took Delta five days — and about 4,000 canceled flights — before it fully recovered.Like Sunday's outage, that April storm hit Delta's largest hub at a busy travel time when there weren't many empty seats to accommodate customers from cancelled flights. At the time, CEO Ed Bastian vowed Delta would make 'significant improvements' to its system for scheduling and tracking aircraft crews to recover more quickly from disruptions.Other airlines also canceled flights for the rest of Sunday. American Airlines canceled 24 departures and an equal number of arrivals, said spokesman Ross Feinstein. The airline also diverted three planes that were headed to Atlanta when the outage struck, sending them instead to Dallas, Nashville and back to Philadelphia.The city of Atlanta provided shuttle service to the Georgia Convention Center on Sunday for travelers needing a place to stay.Delta passenger Emilia Duca, 32, was on her way to Wisconsin from Bogota, Colombia, when she got stuck in Atlanta. She said police made passengers who were in the baggage claim area move to a higher floor. She said restaurants and shops were closed. Vending machines weren't working.'A lot of people are arriving, and no one is going out. No one is saying anything official. We are stuck here,' she said. 'It's a nightmare.'Some passengers said there was a lack of information from airport officials and little help from first responders to get the disabled and the elderly through the airport without the use of escalators and elevators.'They had these elderly people, handicapped people lined up in wheelchairs,' said stranded passenger Rutia Curry. 'The people were helpless, they can't get down the stairs. It was just a nightmare.'Passenger James Beatty said there was no real method for evacuation.'I mean there was 40 or 50 people per the terminal area that were confined to wheelchairs and some that couldn't get through the airport very well, some of them actually couldn't walk and there was no plan at all to get them out of here without any power.'Beatty said passengers carried those who used wheelchairs down stairs.The FAA said it would staff the airport control tower throughout the night so it could handle flights once they resume. The FAA said the tower could operate normally but flights were affected because airport equipment in the terminals was not working.According to a Georgia Power statement, the utility believes a piece of equipment in an underground electrical facility may have failed, causing the fire. The fire was next to equipment for a backup system, causing that to also fail.'No personnel or passengers were in danger at any time,' the statement said.No areas outside of the airport were affected by the power loss. The utility said there are 'many redundant systems in place' to ensure the power supply to the airport and that such outages at the airport 'are very rare.'Anthony Foxx, who served as U.S. transportation secretary under former President Barack Obama, tweeted that he was among the many travelers stuck for hours on a plane on the tarmac.'Total and abject failure here at ATL Airport today,' he tweeted, adding that there was 'no excuse for lack of workable redundant power source. NONE!'In another tweet, Foxx said it seemed like the problem was 'compounded by confusion and poor communication.'Once he was off the plane, Foxx tweeted that he hoped to rent a car to drive to Charlotte, North Carolina, to catch a flight Monday morning.Sara Melillo and her husband, Greg Presto, were traveling from Kenya, where they live, to Pittsburgh to spend Christmas with his family when they were stuck on the tarmac for six hours. The couple had made stops in Nairobi and Amsterdam and landed shortly after the lights went out in Atlanta.Melillo said the pilot didn't have a lot of information for the travelers but the plane had air conditioning and attendants offered water and juice a few times. She described the Delta terminal as 'big chaos' with not enough customer service for the hundreds of people trying to find a flight to their next destination and a place to sleep for the night.With her new boarding pass handwritten and her bags still stuck on a plane, Melillo was hopeful that she and her husband would be able to get a flight in the morning to Pittsburgh, she said as she waited for an Uber ride to a hotel. But in a Monday morning email, Melillo told The Associated Press the morning flight had been rescheduled to the evening and they were going to the airport to try to get a different flight.Airport workers were distributing bottled water, and Dunkin' Donuts was giving out doughnuts. Chick-fil-A, which is usually closed on Sundays, opened to provide meals for travelers, according to the airport's Twitter feed.Officer Lisa Bender of the Atlanta Police Department said officers were at the airport to help with crowd control and managing traffic around the airport.At Southwest Airlines, about 70 Atlanta departures out of 120 scheduled for Sunday were canceled, an airline spokesman said in an email. United Airlines and JetBlue Airways were among carriers reporting delays or cancellations.American Airlines reported only a handful of diversions and cancellations because the carrier does not use Atlanta as a hub, airline spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello.Hartsfield-Jackson, which serves 104 million passengers a year, is the world's busiest airport, a distinction it has held since 1998.The airport serves an average of 275,000 passengers daily, according to its website. Nearly 2,500 planes arrive and depart each day.___AP Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas and Associated Press writer Robert Ray in Atlanta contributed to this report.